Magumba, Bengo, Nsumba: Which No.10 thrilled most?

Sunday August 02 2020
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Wrong Generation. Magumba was unfortunate to have emerged on the Ugandan soccer scene at a time when there were a galaxy of stars, senior and experienced players like Jackson Mayanja, Steven Bogere and Fred Tamale.Inside picture: Bengo leaves Kenyan Patrick Osiako in a daze during an Afcon Qualifier at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi. PHOTOS/ EDDIE CHICCo & JOHN BATANUDEE

His entertaining style of play turned him into the number one darling of SC Villa fans. Little wonder that in January 2005 when a rumour went around Villa Park that his sacking letter was being prepared and about to be signed, fans threatened to violently demonstrate against the club management.
They argued that Magumba should remain at Villa Park as role model for the young players at the club’s training ground in Nsambya. During training, Villa fans were never amused when fellow players roughly tackled Magumba and they never shied away from scolding them.

For many SC Villa fans, Magumba was untouchable. Even the lady fans liked his ‘French cut’ hairstyle. They nicknamed him ‘Boda Boda’ for the speed with which he used to drive the ball upfront and dribble through a forest of opponents’ legs just like the way ‘Boda Boda’ motorcyclists cruise through a heavy traffic to reach destinations in time. It was in the late 1997 when SC Villa wooed Magumba from Iganga Town Council FC for a mere Shs500, 000. His arrival at Villa Park was so timely as the club had just endured a three-year trophy-drought. Things immediately changed the following season as SC Villa sealed the season double; league and Uganda Cup.

At SC Villa, Magumba enjoyed an illustrious playing career and it came as no surprise when he was named among the players with outstanding influence to the team’s success in 2015 when the club celebrated 40 years of existence. Magumba was highly rated alongside others like; Magid Musisi, Paul Hasule, Andrew, Mukasa, Geoffrey Higenyi, Edgar Watson, Phillip Ssozi, Andy Mwesigwa, and Timothy Batabaire.

The pint-sized midfielder won seven league titles at Villa Park, four Uganda Cups and two Cecafa Clubs Championship titles. His presence in the Jogoos team between 1999 and 2000 helped the much feared combination between Andrew Mukasa and Hassan Mubiru (christened Mu-Mu attack) thrive. But how? Magumba was one player that used to set up many goals for teammates, especially those on the forward line. A case in perspective is the 1999 season when SC Villa harvested a lot and Andrew ‘Fimbo’ Mukasa went into the history books by smashing Jimmy Kirunda’s league scoring record of 32 goals which had stood for 21 years.

Fimbo registered 45 goals with Magumba having a hand in literally all of them. Magumba’s playing style was a joy to watch and he used to leave many opposition defenders at sea. He used to play inside the midfield and at times somewhere at No.10 thus becoming famous for making double passes in addition to scoring in open play. He was one player that was always well positioned to cause havoc after easily beating opponents with pace.

In the National U-23 team (Uganda Kobs) that was coached by Leo Adraa, Magumba was so instrumental in taking Uganda to the 1999 All African Games in South Africa but sadly missed the tournament after sustaining a serious knee injury just after the qualification campaign. Earlier on in 1996, he was part of the youth team that represented Uganda during the Regional Youth Championship held in Ethiopia.
But why does a player like Magumba boast of a few Cranes caps compared to other equally good players of his generation? The answer is simple. He was so unfortunate to have emerged on the Ugandan soccer scene at the time when there was a galaxy of stars, senior and experienced players that overshadowed him. The likes of Jackson Mayanja, Fred Tamale, Steven Bogere, Joseph Mutyaba and Edgar Watson among others made it hard for Magumba to be a mainstay. He made his Cranes debut in the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Malawi in Kampala on July 1, 2000.


Cranes won 3-1. In that match, Hassan Mubiru put Uganda ahead in third minute with Magumba securing the second in 14th minute when he chipped the ball in the top roof of Malawi’s goal before Andrew Mukasa drove the final nail in the central African nation’s coffin with a third strike in the 52nd minute.
Magumba’s last match for the Cranes was in 2006 – a friendly against Botswana. He will go down in Ugandan football history books as the first Ugandan playing at home to be officially honoured with a testimonial farewell match in recognition of his services. This match was played on August 22, 2015 and graced by a number of former SC Villa and Cranes teammates.

l He won the league with SC Villa in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.
l Won the Uganda Cup with SC Villa in 1998, 2002, 2009, 2011 and 2014.
l He was also part of the team that won Hedex, Tusker and Castle Cups.
l Won two Cecafa Clubs Championship titles with SC Villa in 2003 and 2005.
l He scored four goals in the 1999 Cecafa Clubs tournament for SC Villa. But Villa lost to Yanga in the final.
l He was part of the U-23 Team that qualified for the 1999 All Africa Games in South Africa.
l He was part of the young Uganda team that participated in the 1996 Coca-cola Youth Championship.

l After the resignation of coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojević in November 2011 from SC Villa, Magumba and two others were appointed caretaker coaches to handle the team for the next league match against Bell FC.
l In 2000, he scored in his debut match for Cranes, a 2002 Afcon qualifier against Malawi that Cranes won 3-1.
l In 2015, he was officially honoured with a testimonial match after retiring from football, something that had been previously unheard of.
l During his career, he played for Iganga Town Council FC, SC Villa, Kira Young and Atraco of Rwanda.

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Ball Weaver. Many pundits still talk about Nsumba as the best dribbler Ugandan football has ever produced. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE

A ghetto product from Kosovo-Lungujja zone who against all odds used football to hit the limelight in a similar way like Magid Musisi (RIP) stormed the city from the dingy area code of Mulago.
Bengo started playing football during his secondary school days at Citizen High School located at Kabakanjagala Road in Mengo under the guidance of coach Moses Golola. From Citizen High, he joined Lawrence Mulindwa’s St Mary’s Kitende, a school known for polishing young players’ soccer talents. At the school, he partnered with Cranes internationals Kizito Luwagga, Sadam Juma, Tony Odur and Mike Mutyaba among others to form a formidable school team that for long terrorised many schools in National Championships.

His earlier days also saw him go through the meticulous hands of veteran coach Eddie Butindo in his soccer academy - Friends of Football (FOF) - which then used to train at Old Kampala Secondary School playgrounds.
From there, he was recruited by SC Villa nursery side of Jogoo Young then coached by Ibrahim Kirya. Playing for Jogoo Young meant that it would be just a matter of time before he switched to Villa Park. It was just like a day following a night. This exactly happened sometime in 2006. At SC Villa, Bengo first played as an attacking midfielder whilst switching to the forward line now and then. He was good at making accurate passes, dribbling and wonderful at executing free-kicks and converting penalties. His teammates at Villa Park nicknamed him ‘Mukulu’ which can loosely be translated as elder in respect for the manner with which he always shamelessly dribbled past them.

Bengo always commanded the ball with enviable confidence and had it glued to his feet comfortably for both club and country. Bengo’s first Cranes call-up came in 2008 when Scottish coach Bobby Williamson was in charge. It was during the regional Cecafa tournament when he scored a brilliant fourth in Uganda’s 4-0 win over Rwanda.
In the semifinals against Burundi, Bengo netted once again with other scorers being striker Brian Umony (2), defender Andy Mwesigwa and striker Geoffrey Massa in Uganda’s 5-0 win.

Bengo was in 2009, once again, part of the Cranes side that retained the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup. At club level, Bengo also featured for Young Africans of Tanzania (Yanga), URA, Nakumatt FC of Kenya, Express, Soana and Wakiso Giants.
He spent only one season at Yanga FC and returned to the Ugandan topflight league after being released. It is alleged that he told a friend that his departure from Tanzanian was solely on sorcery towards him from Tanzanian players who were unhappy with foreigners coming to their country and taking their places. The close friend that requested not to be named disclosed further that whenever time for training came, Bengo would fall asleep and remain behind something that would annoy his Tanzanian masters and put paid to his stay there.

Bengo retired from football in September 2019 due to a heart problem detected when KCCA FC was about to sign him. His doctors advised him to give up the sport he had fallen in love with since childhood. A testimonial match was organised in honour on his 31st birthday, the Christmas Eve of 2019 at Kabaka Kyabaggu Stadium in Wakiso District. Bengo played in the first half for the ex-Jogoo Young team.He will be remembered for his outspo ken character as well. He was a no nonsense ‘Namwatulira’ player who wouldn’t hesitate to speak what troubled his mind. In 2015 during his third stint at SC Villa he reportedly threatened to punch Assistant coach Kirya, who had openly pointed out his mistakes after a 1-0 win over Sadolin Paints FC. On another occasion SC Villa coach Sam Ssimbwa accused Bengo of disobeying him, his assistant Kirya and the team manager Sulaiti Makumbi then made an announcement that they wouldn’t conduct any training session until Bengo was suspended from the team.

Then there was an incident when Bengo vehemently insisted that coach Ssimbwa was witch-hunting him when the gaffer claimed that Bengo always trained while drunk. Bengo, instead, blasted the coach telling him to do his job and leave him to do as he wished.

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l He played for Jogoo Young, SC Villa, URA, KCCA, Yanga of Tanzania, Nakumatt of Kenya, Express, Soana and Wakiso Giants.
l He won Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup titles with Cranes in 2008 and 2009.
l Scored in his debut match for Cranes, the 2008 Cecafa Cup match against Rwanda. Uganda won 4-0.
l He was part of the successful school team of St. Mary’s Kitende that clinched so many National Championships.
l He played semi-professional football for Yanga FC of Tanzania and Nakumatt of Kenya.
l A testimonial was organized in his honour when he retired in December 2019 at the Kabaka Kyabaggu Stadium in Wakisha.
Nsumba, like Bengo, shared so many attributes. Apart from both having played for SC Villa, they were attacking midfielders that were sometimes switched upfront.
That was not all. Unfortunately both players loved the frothy bitter and boozing partly played a role in ruining their careers.

Besides, Nsumba, too, was at one time handled by coach Butindo at FOF with others like Juma, Mike Azira and Denis Iguma.
Nsumba is said to have embraced soccer during his childhood while attending Primary School in Mukono District where he would turn up with banana-fibre made soccer balls.
He was lucky to later relocate to Old Kampala SSS, a school that took football seriously and was responsible for producing the likes of legendary icons Jimmy Kirunda and Ashe Mukasa.

Nsumba was among players former SC Villa coach Micho signed in 2004. On joining the club, Micho waxed lyrical about him.
The Serbian coach described Nsumba as someone with an extraordinary talent. “The boy is extra good. He is a rough diamond that needs polishing a little. With him, the future of this country is bright,” Micho told local media then.
Micho’s assistant at Cranes then, Jackson Mayanja, too, heaped praise on the young man saying Nsumba was a wonder-kid and real professional material that would to take the country to higher heights.

Nsumba could play on either wing and attacked in such deadly style that scared most defenders. Many went as far describing Nsumba as Uganda’s Messi, the boy who was terrific at passing the ball with both feet.
Nsumba played for SC Villa between 2004 and 2007 before leaving for paid ranks in Iceland where he featured for IB Vestmannaeyja FC where he made over 50 appearances and scored nine goals.

After spending two seasons in Iceland, he returned to Uganda in 2010 and joined URA which he left to return to SC Villa in 2015. He played for SC Villa for a short period after which he joined Jinja-based Bidco before hanging his boots. Nsumba played for Cranes in 2006 and reportedly made three appearances.
While at SC Villa, he once absconded from camp during the 2005 Cecafa Clubs Championship event in Mwanza.
Media reports later wrote that Nsumba had gone for some lowdown time to check out the coastal town’s nightlife.

l He was an attacking midfielder that could play on either wings.
l He played for SC Villa, URA, BUL FC and IB Vestmannaeyja of Iceland
l He won two Uganda Cups with Villa.
l In 2007 at the age of 19, he became one the youngest Ugandan footballers to play professional football in Europe when he joined IBV of Iceland
l IBV of Iceland bought him from SC Villa for a whopping Shs45m then.
l He made over 50 appearances for IBV Iceland and scored nine goals.
l A tale is told that he was named ‘Kakejje’ as small fish biologically named haplochromines by Villa fans because of his physique when Hajj Omar Mandela unveiled him to the fans. They had previously not seen him and they were caught off guard as those were the days when Villa used to poach from Express and KCCA.